The LSU Tigers knocked off nationally-ranked Tennessee for the third straight year Saturday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as LSU defeated the No. 16 Volunteers by a score of 78-65.
The Tigers are now 8-4 in the SEC tied with Arkansas for second place entering the week, and 13-6 overall, while No. 16 Tennessee falls to 14-5 and 7-5 in the league.
Javonte Smart (below) for the third straight year scored at least 20 points on the Volunteers, hitting for 20 this year after 29 in 2019 and 21 in 2020. Smart hit 8-of-13 field goals, including a three and 3-of-3 at the line to go with five rebounds and two assists.
Cameron Thomas posted his fifth straight 20-point game with 25 on 6-of-16 shooting with two treys and 11-of-11 at the line to go with three rebounds and four assists. Darius Days, in his second game back, hit 6-of-10 shots including two treys to go with an assist, five rebounds and two steals.
Aundre Hyatt started his second consecutive game and contributed eight points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
The Vols were led by Jaden Springer with 21 points and seven assists, while Santiago Vescovi had 13 and Keon Johnson 12.
For the second straight game LSU’s offensive game was strong and Saturday the Tigers were engaged defensively, holding Tennessee to just 29 percent shooting in the first half and 35.5 percent for the game (22-of-62). Tennessee made eight threes and 13-of-17 at the line.
LSU on the other hand shot 51.9 percent for the game (27-of-52) after making 38-of-62 shots against Mississippi State on Wednesday. LSU made seven treys and was 17-of-18 at the free throw line.
The Tigers quickly jumped out 10-5 on the Vols on a Hyatt three-pointer as Tennessee’s only lead came at 3-2 one minute in. LSU would lead by as much as 12 in the first half, 28-16, with 4:47 to go but the Vols made their best run of the game, holding LSU to three points the rest of the way to cut the Tigers lead to five, 31-26, at intermission.
In the second half, Tennessee cut the LSU lead to one twice at 33-32 and 36-35, but LSU put on a 10-2 spurt to make it 46-37 on a Days three with 15:08 to play. Tennessee would never get closer than four points, 50-46, with 12:56 to go as LSU scored the next seven points, all by Smart, as he had a jumper and two layups. The last one resulted in a three-point play that pushed the LSU lead to 57-46.
The Tigers biggest lead was 17 points with 5:10 to go in the game.